What I Wish I Had Known In My Twenties

What one thing do you wish you had known about life when you were in your 20s? originally appeared on Quorathe knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by James Altucher, blogger, author, social media, investor, wall street investor, on Quora:

One time when I was twenty-five, I went shopping for an engagement ring for my girlfriend. We had been together for three years, and my dad kept asking when I would marry her. My friends kept asking. Her friends kept asking. Her dad kept asking her and she would tell me.

We were living together. And I liked her. Maybe I loved her.

But I started to shiver when I was looking at rings in the store. My friend who I was with took one look at me and quoted a lyric from an MC 900 Ft Jesus song: “Something’s gonna happen, and it’s probably not good.”

So I didn’t buy the ring. We didn’t get married. She moved out. We moved to different cities. I called her once a few years later, but now she’s not even on Facebook, and we haven’t talked since.

That sums up the twenties – everything you think is important and meaningful has absolutely no bearing on your future life.

I loved her. I had a job. I was writing novels. I had friends. I was a computer programmer.

Now, none of the above is true. (Oh, I have friends. Just different friends – 100% different).

And everything in my thirties – nothing is true anymore (except I have two kids still. Although now they are not babies. Now they are smarter than me).

I’m forty-eight now.

My most recent career change occurred when I was forty-seven. Before that, I started writing seriously (I wrote five very unserious books in my thirties) when I was forty-two.

In my twenties and thirties, my average weight was about 155 – 170. Now it’s 140. I write every day. I don’t obsess about money all day long. And I make bad decisions all day long – just like I did in my twenties.

The main skill I got between my twenties and now is that I bounce back from bad things faster.

I was very successful in my late twenties. And then a total failure after. Then very successful. And so on.

So that didn’t change. Only my ability to bounce back from really bad things. Horrible things. Things you wouldn’t want to wish on anyone, and yet they happen, in some form or other, to everyone.

So the only thing I can with full integrity say I wish I had known: nothing at all matters. Oh, and since nothing matters, once you realize that, you’ll start to bounce back faster.

And since nothing matters, you might as well be kind to people as much as possible. We can all laugh at the same joke at the end of this very long day.

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Criticisms I’ve Faced Because I’m Engaged In My Early Twenties


I think a lot of people have misconceptions about women who get engaged in their early twenties, but it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. People have told me that if I get married this young that I won’t be able to enjoy all that life has to offer, but to me it seems that my fiancé helps me enjoy life even more than I did before we started dating.

I’ve heard that women who marry young are somehow incapable of making good decisions or, at least, are not able to make decisions logically. But I tell people love isn’t blind. Jacob and I think very carefully and critically before making important decisions, and getting engaged was no exception.

Some articles I’ve seen about the topic of young engagements focus on the benefits of being able to have children young while you still have plenty of energy to raise them. However, I can’t relate to this particular advantage. I don’t want to have children (in the traditional sense): I want to adopt, but not for at least another fifteen years. I factored in children to make sure Jacob and I are on the same page, but I am not getting married to have them.

Why fifteen years before children? Jacob and I will spend approximately the first ten years of our marriage continuing to pursue higher education. He will go on to earn a Master’s Degree in Computer Science or Statistics while I earn a law degree and a Master’s Degree in Latin American & Caribbean Studies. Then both of us hope to start PhD programs. In ten years we will no longer be Mr. & Mrs. but rather Dr. & Dr. Once we build our careers, then we will focus on building a family.

Several women are under the notion that I will suddenly end my higher education goals the day I get married. Trust me, I am a human, not a robot, so getting married will not change me into a baby- making machine who leaves school in the dust. Female hormones are not that powerful people. (And who says women cannot have babies and get their degrees too?) (Or that hormones can make a woman change her mind?) When I am married, even though Jacob and I will be legally, emotionally and financially tied, I will still be my own person with my own unique goals and ambitions. Even better, since Jacob also wants his PhD, we look forward to sharing that experience together.

Another reason that people don’t like couples getting married young is because they think it won’t last. We both have great examples of lasting relationships with our grandparents and parents. If we were not certain about our potential to have a legacy of love then we would not enter into holy matrimony.

People also don’t understand why we would settle down and forgo multiple sexual partners in the future. Once again, we aren’t worried about it. We prefer a committed, monogamous environment even though we are both open people. Because we are so comfortable with each other we never have to leave our safe environment to have fun. It’s just one of the many benefits of unconditional love.

Jacob and I have talked a lot about all of the negative comments we have received when we tell people about our engagement. I was inspired to write this article because most of the negative comments come from strangers and non- immediate family who can’t understand why we would get married so young. Most critics are actually women who don’t mind Jacob getting married young but who mind me getting married young. It’s a huge double standard. It is important for us women to lift each other up even if one of us makes a different choice. This is why I love Amy Poehler’s saying, “Good for her, not for me.” I actually thought a lot about whether or not to even write this article because I don’t like feeling as though I need to explain myself for people to accept and share in my happiness. However, writing is cathartic and once I complied all my thoughts into one place it felt like a huge weight off my shoulders.

Ultimately, I am very proud of all of my life choices so I love spreading happiness around, the engagement included. If I need to explain my experiences so people can empathize with a different point of view, I’m all for it! I hope that by sharing this piece of our lives with you all that it clears up any preconceived notions. We hope you will share joy with us on the happy occasion of our engagement!

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Only Yesterday – An Informal History Of The Nineteen Twenties

Only Yesterday – An Informal History Of The Nineteen Twenties

ONLY YESTERDAY- AN INFORMAL HISTORY OF THE NINETEEN-TWENTIES by FREDERICK LEWIS ALLEN. Originally published in 1931. Contents include: INTRODUCTION by Roger Butter field Ix PREFACE xill I. PRELUDE MAY, 1919 i II. BACK TO NORMALCY 15 III. THE BIG RED SCARE 45 IV. AMERICA CONVALESCENT 76 V. THE REVOLUTION IN MANNERS AND MORALS 88 VI. HARDING AND THE SCANDALS 123 VII. COOLIDGE PROSPERITY 159 VIII. THE BALLYHOO YEARS 186 IX. THE REVOLT OF THE HIGHBROWS 226 X. ALCOHOL AND AL CAPONE 245 XI. HOME, SWEET FLORIDA 270 XII. THE BIG BULL MARKET 290 XIII. CRASH 3 XIV. AFTERMATH 1930-31 339 APPENDIX ON SOURCES 358 363. INTRODUCTION: IT is now twenty-five years since Only Yesterday was first published and it is time to say what has long been apparent that this is an American classic. It is by far the best account of all that happened in the United States during the wonderfully wacky 1920 5. It established a pattern for books of social history which other writers have imitated but have not been able to improve. It has been widely read and enjoyed more than half a million copies have been issued in the United States, England, Italy, Japan and Russia. The demand continues and no doubt it will continue, as long as Americans want to read wise and witty books about their past. Frederick Lewis Allen, who wrote this book, was a Harvard trained editor and connoisseur of human behavior who mixed the fascinating little details of history with the deeds of famous men. In Only Yesterday he wrote of Mah Jong and H. L. Mencken, of Couism and Calvin Coolidge, of Listerines flights of advertising fancy and Lindberghs flight to Paris. In his mod est preface to the original edition Allen suggested that time might make some changes in his judgments of major events. Yet one of the remarkable things about this book is the way it stands up in the light of later research. Since it was published we have had complete and scholarly accounts of the Wall Street crash of 1929, of the Harding scandals, of prohi

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Montgomery Ward Fashions of the Twenties

Montgomery Ward Fashions of the Twenties

What were people wearing during the Roaring 20s? This stylish collection offers hundreds of sepia-tone illustrations and captions depicting the fashions of the times — women’s “rage of Paris” chemise dresses, feather-trimmed cloche hats, and casual wear, plus men’s suits, work clothes, and kids’ apparel. Includes 16 pages of color images.

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Fashions of the Early Twenties: The 1921 Philipsborn’s Catalog

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